Hector Santiago/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– First and foremost, Hector Santiago had another fine outing. He pitched seven innings and for the most part matched “King” Felix Hernandez pitch-for-pitch. Santiago allowed just one run on three hits and struck out six while walking two. Hernandez allowed no runs and just one hit and struck out eight while walking three in six innings; he came out with cramps caused by the heat in the daytime game. Santiago’s ERA dropped to 2.58, lowest among Angels starting pitchers, fourth in the American League. He’s only 4-4, but Santiago is nevertheless making a case for being selected to the AL All-Star team.
– Rookie Trevor Gott, just 22, earned his first big-league victory with a perfect 10th inning. Gott has now pitched seven innings and has allowed just three hits and no runs; he has an ERA of 0.00 and has not walked a batter. He is regularly clocked at 98 miles-per-hour.
– It figured Albert Pujols would cool off, if for no other reason than he had been so hot for a long spell. Pujols went 0-for-5 in this one and has gone just 1-for-15 in his past four games with no home runs and no RBIs. Pujols’ most recent home run came June 22 in a 4-3 victory over Houston. He hit two that night. That was also the last time he drove in a run; he had three RBIs in that one.
– The Angels, who continue to struggle to score runs, hit into three double plays. The most notable came in the bottom of the 10th inning when Pujols hit the first pitch from Tom Wilhelmsen and grounded into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play with the bases loaded. Fortunately for the Angels, Wilhelmsen then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Kole Calhoun with the winning run.
– Speaking of Calhoun, he has had two clutch at-bats the past two games. And since he’s been struggling at the plate, that’s huge for the Angels. He smacked a two-run home run in the first inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Seattle. Then he had an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning in this one that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead. It could have been the winning run, but Huston Street gave up a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. However, the Angels were glad to take the victory on Wilhelmsen’s wild pitch. Calhoun was hitting .314 on May 13. He’s now at .262 and is hitting just .232 this month.
Huston Street/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– This was a big victory in as much as had the Angels lost, they would have fallen under the .500 mark and would have been 5 1/2 games behind front-running Houston in the AL West. With the win, the Angels are 33-32 and still 4 1/2 games out ahead of Wednesday’s games.
– This was the first game with the new batting order that saw Albert Pujols bat cleanup for the first time since 2010. Mike Trout, typically a No. 2 hitter, was moved to third with previous cleanup hitter Kole Calhoun batting second. The results were mixed. The Angels did not get a leadoff batter on the entire game. Calhoun went 0-for-4, Trout 1-for-3 with a single and walk and Pujols 1-for-3 with a 2-run home run.
– Left-fielder Matt Joyce was back in the lineup after being benched for two days. He’s still struggling. Joyce went 0-for-2 and was replaced by Daniel Robertson, who went 1-for-2. Joyce is now batting .181.
– Perhaps the best news from this game was the second consecutive solid outing by starting and winning pitcher Garrett Richards. He tossed seven innings and allowed just four hits and one unearned run while striking out four and walking three. After having his ERA rise to 4.14 after getting ripped in New York for six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on June 6, Richards’ ERA is down to 3.59. He’s 7-4 and leads the staff in wins.
– Huston Street picked up his 20th save in 22 opportunities. Street blew saves May 6 against Seattle and May 7 against Houston. In the latter game, he gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. His ERA was 3.86 at that point, not good for a closer. He since has converted 11 save opportunities in succession and lowered his ERA to 2.33.
Garrett Richards/Photo courtesy of Los Angels Angels
– Albert Pujols’ 17th home run of the season tied him for the team lead with Mike Trout, who also homered in this one. For Pujols, it was No. 537 for his career and moved him into 16th-place all-time; he had been tied with Mickey Mantle. Next up for Pujols is Mike Schmidt, who is No. 15 with 548.
– Kyle Kubitza’s game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning ignited a three-run inning that allowed the Angels to take a 4-2 lead. That Kubitza’s clutch hit came the day after a mixed-results major-league debut was a sign that he has the wherewithal to get past the bad things that happen.
– When you don’t play a lot, you can raise your batting average in a hurry. Such was the case with Efren Navarro, who had three hits in this game to raise his average from .227 to .308.
– Nice outing by Garrett Richards. Much-needed, too, as he had seen his ERA rise from 3.12 to 4.14 over his previous two starts. Richards allowed just two runs on four hits in seven innings in this one while striking out seven and walking just one. He lowered his ERA to 3.97 in the process while earning his team-high sixth victory against four defeats.
– The Angels may only be 30-30, but this victory helped them gain a half game on idle first-place Houston and a full game on second-place Texas. The Angels are now only 3 1/2 games behind the Astros and just a game behind the Rangers.
Mike Trout/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
Most of the talk after Monday’s 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays centered on the two home runs hit by Albert Pujols, who now has 533 career home runs and is just one back of Jimmie Foxx, whose 534 put him 17th all-time.
But Mike Trout had a three-run home run in the third inning that broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Angels a 4-1 lead. That was as big as anything that happened in the game. That it came on an 0-2 pitch at the knees from Rays starter Alex Colome and traveled 427 feet, made it all the more impressive.
“I had been a little jumpy my first couple of at-bats and I just tried to simplify the swing, just try to use my hands and I got a pitch, a slider and I (saw) it pretty good and put a barrel on it,” Trout said, explaining the at-bat.
Trout actually only had one at-bat prior to the home run, not two. He struck out in that first at-bat in the first inning.
Trout now has 13 home runs on the season, tying him with Pujols.